PM's Sambagate creates binfluencer


Issue #141 | Your reading time this week is 5 mins. 45 secs.

Welcome back to the Creator Briefing.

Here’s just some of what I’ve been thinking about this week:

  • US Congress passes ban or sell bill against TikTok. China isn’t happy

  • TikTok publishes Creator Code of Conduct - makes provision against offence archaeologists

  • How UK PM’s finfluencer interview created Sambagate and launched the binfluencer

  • Ogilvy launches health influencer marketing capability

  • Meta and YouTube owner Alphabet post Q1 earnings

  • Brainlabs charts the changing luxury landscape

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US Congress approves bill banning TikTok unless ByteDance sells platform

US app stores will be banned from carrying TikTok in around 265 days unless its Chinese owner sells the video-sharing platform after Congress passed a security package that includes measures to counter threats from China.

Interestingly, the bill was not evidence based. Its authors disclosed no public evidence of wrongdoing on TikTok’s part. Instead, the bill passed on a wave of perception and gut feel. The New York Times digs further into the secrecy surrounding a tiny group of lawmakers who got the bill over the line. 

Not surprisingly, the passing of the bill has stirred unease and anger in mainland China. An article published by the Beijing Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party’s Beijing Municipal Committee, said the measure against TikTok is tantamount to a “robbery” that would “completely destroy American national credibility, which is already flawed”  - according to the South China Morning Post.

I cover some happier news about TikTok initiatives below including updated community guidelines and a new Creator Code of Conduct.

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Brainlabs introduces the new rules of luxury

Brainlabs has collaborated with Appinio to discover 

  • What multigenerational audiences across the UK and the USA really think about the luxury sector. 

  • How they buy from luxury and interact with luxury

  • What they want from luxury goods. 

The resulting data outlines how luxury brands must change their marketing strategies to drive customer lifetime value in 2024. 

Some headline stats

  • 58.6% prefer to shop instore over online for luxury items

  • 34.8% of 16-24-year-olds think influencers impact their decision to purchase

  • 50.4% of luxury consumers say Instagram is their top platform. Compared with 12.5% who listed TIKTOK as their proffered platform

Ogilvy launches dedicated health influencer marketing capability 

Ogilvy announced this week it’s creating an influencer marketing specialism focused on health. 

New data was produced from Ogilvy Research & Intelligence as part of the launch. Here are some top stats: 

  • 70% of those surveyed either follow/seek out health-related social media accounts or learn about health or medical issues from social media accounts. 

  • 93% of those who engage with health-related social media accounts report taking some action as a result of seeing health or medical-related social media content. 

  • 92% of those who are engaged with health-related social media accounts cited a positive impact with about half (47%) reporting that health-related social media accounts have made it easier to learn about health conditions while four in ten (42%) indicate they feel more confident in making decisions about their health because of health or medical social media accounts. 

UK regulations on medical claims

Section 12 of the UK’s CAP Code lays out the rules advertisers must follow when promoting medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products.

Medicinal or medical claims can only be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA for instance. 

Influencers are dealt with explicitly in section 12.18: “Marketers must not use health professionals or celebrities to endorse medicines.”

Earlier this week the ASA upheld a complaint against an ad that made medical claims about an unlicensed product for treating symptoms of the menopause.

Meta’s Q1 2024 earnings: big on AI

Meta shared its Q1 2024 earnings report this week. During the call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg went long on AI. He spoke at length about his firm’s 

  • Investments in AI

  • Progress made to date 

  • AI work is impacting the rest of the business both now and in the future.

Specific highlights include:

  • 30% of the posts on Facebook feed are delivered by Meta’s AI recommendation system. That's up 2x over the last two years.

  • >50% of the content people see on Instagram is AI recommended (for the first time).

  • Tens of millions of people have already tried Meta AI, and over the long term, the firm believes that eventually, every business on its platforms will use a business AI to help customers buy things and get customer support.

Here’s the full transcript detailing what was shared during the earnings call.

Alphabet Q1 2024 earnings: YouTube Shorts monetisation doubles

Alphabet released its Q1 2024 results this week. 

  • Revenue jumped 15% from $69.8bn a year ago to $80.5bn 

  • Advertising revenue through search and YouTube, which accounts for more than three-quarters of Google’s top line, rose 13% to $61.7bn, against analysts’ forecast for $60.2bn.

  • YouTube’s revenue climbed 21% to nearly $8.1 billion year-over-year during the first quarter

Executives indicated the monetization of YouTube Shorts is showing signs of improvement. That’s good news for creators (and Alphabet shareholders) reports The Information

Executives said the monetization rate of Shorts in the U.S. compared to in-stream viewing (meaning ads that run before or during longer-videos) has more than doubled in the last 12 months, including a 10 point sequential improvement in the first quarter alone, according to reporting by Kaya Yurieff.

Alphabet announced its first-ever dividend of 20 cents a share alongside a $70bn stock buyback, buoyed by a rise in earnings across its main business lines. And, no doubt thanks at least in part due to 10,000 headcount cuts in the last year. 

What consumers look for in influencers

Sprout Social surveyed >2,000 consumers and 300 influencers to get their take on what makes influencer marketing successful and predict how the landscape will evolve in the future. Here are a few takeouts:

The qualities consumers look for in influencers:

  • 53% They align with my personal values

  • 47% Authenticity, even when posting sponsored content

  • 37% They post the right amount of content

  • 36% They align with my personal demographics

  • 26% Follower count 

BUT pay attention to that 47% who look for authenticity in the influencers they follow. This is the average across all age groups. 

Whilst most consumers follow influencers who align with their personal values and seem authentic - and this is especially true for Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers - Sprout Social’s figures show the pull of authenticity to be on the wane when it comes to Gen Z. In this age group only 35% of respondents said they care about authenticity, while 47% care about follower count as a characteristic they look for in influiencers.

The dwindling pull of authenticity

Sprout Social’s new report: ‘In Influencers we Trust’ (see above) unearths a worrying stat about Gen Z’s relationship with authenticity. 

Just 35% of survey respondents said they care about authenticity as a quality they look for in influencers.

It depends, I guess, on how you define authenticity. Some academics distinguish between passionate authenticity and transparent authenticity. They argue passionate authenticity emerges when influencers are driven by “their inner desires and passions more so than by commercial goals.” 

Transparent authenticity on the other hand refers to the influencer’s ability to provide “fact-based information about the product or service at the centre of the brand partnership”.

Many consider authenticity to be a sub element of trustworthiness - which, in turn, is a sub element of credibility - sitting alongside expertise. I wrote about this further for my entry defining influencers in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs.

And here Sprout Social offers us a glimmer of hope for our industry. “This increasingly discerning generation [Gen Z] tends to put less stock in ‘authenticity’ at face value, and more in quantifiable credibility,” according to the report. 

Successful influencers demonstrate credibility within a defined context. This is known as source credibility. Source credibility has two dimensions: trustworthiness and expertise (Levi & Ozcelik, 2020). Trustworthiness is distinct from trust. 

Influencers appear trustworthy in comparison to traditional celebrities by creating a sense of intimacy with the audience. In turn, authenticity is an important sub-element of trustworthiness. Successful SMIs appear genuine to their followers. Expertise, in this context, may be defined as domain knowledge i.e. specific knowledge in a certain field. 

UK PM’s Sambagate leads to ‘creation’ of Binfluencer

A PR wag has coined the phrase ‘binfluencer’ after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was pictured earlier this month conducting an interview with the three finfluencers whilst wearing a pair of box-fresh white Adidas Sambas. 

Days later opposition leader Kier Starmer and opportunist superior Nigel Farage rummaged through their old gym bags to dig out trainers for their photo ops. 

James Herring, founder and CEO of comms agency Taylor Herring defines a Binfluencers as:

“Binfluencer | A rogue product endorsement. A phenomenon where a notably uncool but high profile individual tarnishes a brand's reputation by unwelcome association. A casual photo of a binfluencer with 'said product' can, in minutes, undo decades of diligent brand-building. Any street cred is now in the metaphorical bin.”

Of course, we all know that Binfluencer is already ‘a thing’ - they’re the person or people on a street who take the lead in putting out the correct waste and recycling bins on the correct day, thus prompting neighbours to follow suit.

TikTok updates community guidelines: introduces shadow bans for non-compliant creators

TikTok has updated its community guidelines to include shadow bans for non-compliant creators whilst making it easier for influencers to check their account is in good standing with the platform.

Warnings for creators

Effective 1st May TikTok will raise a warning strike when a creator violates the platform’s Community Guidelines for the first time. The warning strike does not count toward an account's strike tally, but any future violations will. 

TikTok says it will notify creators about which rule they've broken and how they can appeal if they believe a mistake has been made. 

Zero-tolerance policies (for example, incitement to violence) aren't eligible for these reminders; accounts will immediately be banned.

Making it easier for creators to check their account status

TikTok is also rolling out ‘Account Check’ to make it easier for creators to check their account status. 

This new feature will enable creators to quickly audit their account and their last 30 posts, and see at a glance whether they are in good standing on TikTok.

TikTok launches Creator Code of Conduct

TikTok has just published a Creator Code of Conduct,

These are the standards its expects creators involved in TikTok programs, features, events and campaigns to follow on and off-platform, in addition to the platform’s Community Guidelines and Terms of Service.

There’s a lot of sensible provision within the code. Two elements stuck out for me: TikTok’s reminder to creators that: “access to Creator Activities is a privilege and not a right”. It’s stance against offence archaelogy. 

TikTok takes a view on offence archaeologists

‘Offence archaeologists’, as the American essayist and blogger Freddie deBoer coined them are that ‘little army of online busybodies who comb reports of behaviour, comments and written work from a person’s past to identify material perceived as transgressing contemporary norms’.

TikTok’s new Creator Code of Conduct takes a rounded view of a creator’s past behaviour.

“Where behaviour by a creator could cause potential harm to others but has occurred more than 7 years in the past, we may exercise our judgement to determine whether the creator still poses a threat to the safety of our community. Where we are satisfied that a creator no longer poses a danger, we may choose to not suspend or remove their access to Creator Activities, or we may reinstate their access following an appeal.” 

US lawyer, Rober Freund, provides yet another cautionary tale for brands thinking about posting images of celebrities and influencers wearing their products - without having image rights to do so.

In a Tweet this week, Freud wrote: “Again, brands, please do not post celeb pics on your IGs just because they wore your stuff!  

Yesterday, shoe brand Stuart Weitzman was sued for copyright infringement for posting a pic of Kendall Jenner on its Instagram.”

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